There is precious little marketing for boutique car audio. People learn of high end audio and fabrication usually by word of mouth or social media. But one retailer is taking the art of selling boutique car audio to a new level.
SoundFX, DE owner Brian Layton gave Matt Schaeffer, the Mobile Electronics 2016 Installer of the Year, whom he hired a year ago, his own division of the store called Musaic Design. It follows its own sales procedures and has it’s own sleek website. Musaic also caters to a more exclusive clientelle than the typical SoundFX customer.
Musaic’s customers are high end car owners who live out of state. Cars are shipped to the shop from all over the country, including California where there are plenty of top notch fabricators.
Musaic provides concierge service, helping to arrange shipment of the car. And it creating a portal for the customer where he can view photos of his or her car almost daily, as it progresses through the build.
Schaeffer developed a following while at his previous employer, Safe & Sound, Mobile Electronics, Manassas, VA. He posted a YouTube video on a Tesla install, which brought in more Tesla customers, snowballing into a recurring stream of Teslas and other high end vehicles. One of Schaeffer’s “how to” videos received about a half million views he said. We saw a Tesla build video showing 72,000 views.
Schaeffer works on 1-2 cars a month. Almost all the jobs are over $10,000, topping out, so far, at $55,000.
Musaic Design launched less than a year ago and has already added 15 percent to the store’s bottom line, said Layton.
Customers can order from 5 levels of service starting with HiFi 1, which is “better than factory upgrades in stock locations,” to Conversion Level 2, which entails a complete “audiophile conversion” including fabrication. Conversion 2 jobs can take up to 2-3 weeks.
“It’s a way of selling customization in a way that customers can relate to,” said Layton.
Schaeffer is unusual in that he loves selling as well as installing. And he’s combined that with a penchant for photography/video, which helps him promote his work. Layton and SoundFX have added a solid financial backing to this combination, providing a rare best-in-class business platform for audiophile car audio.
Despite being an “Installer of the Year,” Schaeffer said, “I think I’m a better sales person that an installer. I love talking to clients and I feel I can make analogies to clients to make them easily understand the concept and what they should expect. I have to explain why a $40,000 system is better than a $10,000 system…For me, you have to imagine when you deliver a car, that car better sound every bit of $40,000. I create high expectations but at the end of the day, I know nothing they’ve ever heard on the planet will be on the level of what we’re going to do for them.”
Eighty percent of Musaic jobs involve Teslas, and the majority of those are on Tesla P100D’s, which can cost close to $150,000.
Some of Musaic clients will have a new Telsa shipped to the Delaware airport. They fly in and pick up the car and drive it straight to Musaic. Some have become avid fans. One client has a vanity plate that spells a version of “SoundFX.”
Delaware has no sales tax, which helps in the selling process. Essentially, the savings in sales tax can cover one way of shipping the car, said Schaeffer.
He compares his selling strategy to that of selling a model home. “I tell them all the things that make audio great and why they are necessary; that Class A is better than Class D, and active is better than passive, and then…with a lower budget we start stripping away, and no want wants stuff stripped away.”
The typical customer is about 30 or 40 years of age who owned an aftermarket system in his or her 20s. “Now they have a really nice car and they don’t trust someone to work on it. That’s the key demographic.”
It started when Layton asked Schaeffer for some picture of his work to post on the web. “I asked Matt for projects that I could show to customers. So then I thought why not build a website, which promoted and marketed a celebration of Matt’s work,” Layton said.
SoundFX sells both home and car audio with about 55 percent of sales in car audio. About 42 people work for the shop, which sells brands including Focal, Mosconi, Illusion, JL Audio and Alpine.